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Diacritic

A diacritic – diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent – is a glyph added to a letter or basic glyph. The term derives from the Ancient Greek διακριτικός, from διακρίνω. Diacritic is an adjective, though sometimes used as a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective; some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave, are called accents. Diacritical marks may appear above or below a letter, or in some other position such as within the letter or between two letters; the main use of diacritical marks in the Latin script is to change the sound-values of the letters to which they are added. Examples are the diaereses in the borrowed French words naïve and Noël, which show that the vowel with the diaeresis mark is pronounced separately from the preceding vowel. In other Latin-script alphabets, they may distinguish between homonyms, such as the French là versus la that are both pronounced /la/. In Gaelic type, a dot over a consonant indicates lenition of the consonant in question.

In other alphabetic systems, diacritical marks may perform other functions. Vowel pointing systems, namely the Arabic harakat and the Hebrew niqqud systems, indicate vowels that are not conveyed by the basic alphabet; the Indic virama and the Arabic sukūn mark the absence of vowels. Cantillation marks indicate prosody. Other uses include the Early Cyrillic titlo stroke and the Hebrew gershayim, which mark abbreviations or acronyms, Greek diacritical marks, which showed that letters of the alphabet were being used as numerals. In the Hanyu Pinyin official romanization system for Chinese, diacritics are used to mark the tones of the syllables in which the marked vowels occur. In orthography and collation, a letter modified by a diacritic may be treated either as a new, distinct letter or as a letter–diacritic combination; this varies from language to language, may vary from case to case within a language. English is the only major modern European language requiring no diacritics for native words.

In some cases, letters are used as "in-line diacritics", with the same function as ancillary glyphs, in that they modify the sound of the letter preceding them, as in the case of the "h" in the English pronunciation of "sh" and "th". Among the types of diacritic used in alphabets based on the Latin script are: accents ◌́ – acute ◌̀ – grave ◌̂ – circumflex ◌̌ – caron, wedge ◌̋ – double acute ◌̏ – double grave ◌̃ – tilde dots ◌̇ – overdot ◌̣ – an underdot is used in Rheinische Dokumenta and in Hebrew and Arabic transcription ◌·◌ – interpunct tittle, the superscript dot of the modern lowercase Latin i and j ◌̈ – umlaut or diaeresis ◌ː – triangular colon, used in the IPA to mark long vowels. Curves ◌̆ – breve ◌̑ – inverted breve ◌͗ – sicilicus, a palaeographic diacritic similar to a caron or breve ◌̃ – tilde ◌҃ – titlo vertical stroke ◌̩ – syllabic a subscript vertical stroke is used in IPA to mark syllabicity and in Rheinische Dokumenta to mark a schwa macron or horizontal line ◌̄ – macron ◌̱ – underbar overlays ◌⃓ – vertical bar through the character ◌̷ – slash through the character ◌̵ – crossbar through the character ring ◌̊ – overring superscript curls ◌̓ – apostrophe ◌̒ – inverted apostrophe ◌̔ – reversed apostrophe ◌̉ – hoi ◌̛ – horn subscript curls ◌̦ – undercomma ◌̧ – cedilla ◌̡ ◌̢ – hook, left or right, sometimes superscript ◌̨ – ogonek double marks ◌͝◌ – double breve ◌͡◌ – tie bar or top ligature ◌᷍◌ – double circumflex ◌͞◌ – longum ◌͠◌ – double tilde double sub/superscript diacritics ◌̧ ̧ – double cedilla ◌̨ ̨ – double ogonek ◌̈ ̈ – double diaeresis ◌ͅͺ – double ypogegrammeniThe tilde, comma, apostrophe and colon are sometimes diacritical marks, but have other uses.

Not all diacritics occur adjacent to the letter. In the Wali language of Ghana, for example, an apostrophe indicates a change of vowel quality, but occurs at the beginning of the word, as in the dialects ’Bulengee and ’Dolimi; because of vowel harmony, all vowels in a word are affected, so the scope of the diacritic is the entire word. In abugida scripts, like those used to write Hindi and Thai, diacritics indicate vowels, may occur above, before, after, or around the consonant letter they modify; the tittle on the letter i or the letter j, of the Latin alphabet originated as a diacritic to distinguish i from the minims of adjacent letters. It first appeared in the 11th century in the sequence ii spread to i adjacent to m, n, u, to all lowercase is; the j a variant of i, inherited the tittle. The shape of the diacritic developed from resembling today's acute accent to a long flourish by the 15th century. With the advent of Roman type it was reduced to the round. Languages from Eastern Europe tend to use diacritics on both consonants and vowels, whereas in Western Europe digraphs are more used to change consonant sounds.

Most languages in Western Europe use diacritics on vowels, aside from English where there are none (with some exce

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